By William Lewis
In recent years, we have had a September primary election in which political parties with more than one candidate have the registered voters of their party choose a candidate through the primary electoral process. Once the candidates are chosen, the general election campaign then continues for about eight weeks until the fall election in early November.
Back in the early 1970s and before then, we used to have an early June primary. The summer campaign would then be devoted to the fall general election rather than primaries. That would mean the general election campaigns would last for about 16 weeks instead of eight, which is how they are now.
There have been periodic attempts to move the primary election back to June, but as of now the September primary stands in place. By having a June primary, the petition drive would be in April and May instead of during the hot weather of June. This would be a welcome change for those who are active in gathering signatures for candidates.
By selecting candidates in a June primary, it would give more time to the general fall election in terms of gaining name recognition, fund-raising efforts and debating issues.
One example of this occurred in the 2012 September primary for U.S. Senate, where candidate Wendy Long won a landslide victory and became the Republican candidate. Once the primary was over, she had only a few weeks to campaign for the November election. It was too short a period of time to campaign against her incumbent opponent or have any more fund-raising efforts.
These factors affect all political parties. It would be beneficial to our political election system in New York if our state Legislature considered changing the primary election back to June.
Elections in 2013 will include all citywide and City Council offices besides the borough presidencies. Here in Queens, it is the Democratic primary that decides who the borough president will be, since there has not been a Queens Republican borough president since the 1950s.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has indicated that after serving only two years in the Senate, he wants to run for borough president. Avella has now run for Council, Senate and mayor. He is adding a fourth office to that. Considering that his predecessor, Frank Padavan, served 38 years in the Senate, it is unusual for an office holder to serve for only two years before seeking another office.
In 2009, Avella ran in a citywide Democratic primary for mayor. Although he did not win, he gained increasing name recognition and fund-raising possibilities. These things helped him win his Senate seat the following year.
The possibility exists that Avella, if he wins the borough presidency in 2013 and serves four years, will increase his chances of running for mayor in 2017, since he will again be increasing his political strength through more name recognition and assistance in fund-raising.
During the last several weeks, there has been continual speculation about Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota running for mayor as a Republican. Having been a deputy mayor during the Giuliani administration, he will more than likely have the support of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
He seems to be confident that he will be able to get the financial backing needed to run a strong race. There seems to be growing support in the state Conservative Party for endorsing him, but there may be other Republican candidates joining the race. We may see primaries in the Republican and Democratic parties to chose their mayoral candidates.
It will be of interest to see if Mayor Michael Bloomberg, after serving 12 years in office, will endorse a candidate for mayor.
The new year brings promise of being politically eventful in New York City.